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tv   America This Morning  ABC  December 21, 2011 4:00am-4:30am PST

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making news in america this morning, winter's wrath. >> with christmas now days away, a deadly storm is moving east, forcing millions to rethink their travel plans. we'll show you where the storm is headed now. also, capital gridlock. can congress act before frustrated americans see their paychecks shrink? and secret santas. the anonymous donors stepping up to bring cheer to those who need it most, this holiday season. good morning. i'm sunny hostin. >> and i'm rob nelson. as millions of americans hit the road and skies for this big christmas weekend, they are facing a soggy mess, from texas up to the northeast, with
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downpours on tap through tomorrow. >> and the new storm is dumping heavy snow in the rockies, coming on the heels of yesterday's deadly blizzard. more from abc's paul beban. good morning, paul. >> reporter: good morning. 83 million americans are getting ready to hit the road for the holiday weekend. winter doesn't officially begin until tomorrow. but this morning, across the great plains and southwest, people are digging out, after a blizzard blanketed the region with up to two feet of snow. parts of kansas got half their annual snowfall in just one storm. fierce winds and icy roads made driving dangerous. whiteout conditions shutting down interstates, leaving people stranded for hours. >> it was the rain, the rain, the sleet, the snow. by the time we got to kansas, it was really crazy. i stood in the median. just took 3 hours to get 30
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miles. >> reporter: even the cacti were covered in new mexico. all the state's major highways were closed, after an accident left four people dead. in texas and colorado, the national guard was called in to make rescues, and 911 was swamped with calls. but one call brought happy news. a police officer in new mexico reports a baby, born on the road. >> had a motorist stop at my location. he has a female passenger who just delivered a baby. >> reporter: the system is now moving east, dumping heavy rain from texas to new england. and up to a food more snow in the rockies. later in the week, another storm could mean a white christmas for parts of the northeast. >> well, paul, there are reports that there may be some trouble at major airports today. what can you tell us about that? >> reporter: well, that's right. rain in new york and atlanta could cause some flight delays. while in minneapolis and denver, it's snow they're worried about. rob and sunny.
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>> all right. potentially a messy winter holiday again. thanks for that report, paul. let's look at weather from across the country on this wednesday morning. the downpours will be heaviest from houston to nashville, accompanied by strong wind, flooding and tornadoes, as well. the snow hitting the rockies spreads to nebraska and kansas. and santa ana winds kick up across california. >> 41 in seattle. and a snowy 32 in billings. mostly 40s from kansas city to detroit. mild in the northeast. climbing to 50 in boston. and 55 here in new york. 71 in new orleans. and a sunny 82 in miami. switching gears now. millions of americans are going to lose money starting january 1st. >> wage earners, people out of work and doctors who help medicare patients are all affected by a bitter fight on capitol hill. abc's duarte geraldino is joining us with what's at stake. >> reporter: good morning, rob
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and sunny. president obama blasted republicans for failing to pass that tax cut. republicans didn't budge. but in the process, they paved the way for a political showdown. political theater reached new heights in washington. >> this is a partisan, middle-class mugging. >> where is the compromise? where is the agreement? >> reporter: one seattle lawmaker used a red stocking and a piece of coal to symbolize the disappointment 160 million americans would feel if they're taxes go up on january 1st. >> remember the lump of coal in november of 2012, folks. they gave it to you. >> reporter: house republicans rejected the plan passed overwhelmingly in the senate and backed by president obama. it would have extended the 2% payroll tax cut for two months. instead, the house members wanted immediate negotiations with the senate, to extend the payroll tax holiday for one year, as well as jobless benefits. >> we're proud of the bill we passed. >> this is not a game.
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this shouldn't be politics as usual. >> reporter: extending long-time unemployment benefits would provide the average jobless person $300 a week. the senate plan would do so for two months. but prevent a 27% cut in medicare payments. but house republicans insist on a one-year plan. >> the clock is ticking. time is running out. >> reporter: political moves arg getting bolder than big-screen stunts. ♪ >> this isn't "mission impossible," mr. speaker. we don't need tom cruise to save seniors. >> reporter: but with senators already gone for the holidays and less than two weeks left to the year, it's unlikely any deal will get done. rob and sunny? >> thanks, duarte. to presidential politics now. and a major development in the republican race. as newt gingrich and mitt romney battle for front-runner status, ron paul is now in contention to win the iowa caucuses and do well in the hon hon primary. but given his extreme stance on many issues, even loyal
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supporters doubt he can win the nomination. newt gingrich apologized to a voter he makes mistake. the woman told gingrich he sounded presumptuous when he told abc news he would be the eventual nominee. gingrich said he was sorry. and the voters will decide who wins the nomination. in other news this morning, south korean activists are launching thousands of balloons to north korea. along with messages about the transition underway in the country. mourners are paying their respects to kim jong-il, whose body is still lying in state. his son and heir was the first to bow and say good-bye. staid media released what they said was the last photo of kim, taken on a supermarket escalator. now, that escalator has turned into a shrine. well, a hotel in southwest china usually puts up a big christmas tree in its lobby, just like hotels here in the united states. but this year, the hotel made
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one out of 20,000 used plastic water bottles, instead. >> its designers said they wanted to make a statement about recycling, too. i think 20,000 water bottles is a statement. nicely done. coming up next, why tv host piers morgan is being asked to answer questions about that u.k. phone hacking scandal. with fliers down this year, will planes still be packed? and why you can expect to
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overseas markets are up this morning on an improved global economic outlook. tokyo's nikkei average was up 123 1/2 points today. hong kong's hang seng gained 336. and in london, the ftse opened higher. and on wall street, the dow rose 337 points yesterday. the nasdaq index picked up 81. the federal reserve is proposing new banking rules. the fed wants the largest u.s. banks to hold on to extra cash and limit their ties to other
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banks. the proposed regulations are intended as insurance against future financial meltdowns. fewer people will be flying during the holidays. but that doesn't mean the planes will be any less crowded. the airline industry is seeing a 1% decline from last year. but still, about 2 million people will be flying each day from now through the first week of january. and starting next month, some of the stories you see in your facebook news feed will be ads. facebook calls them sponsored stories. you won't be able to avoid them. but they will be labelled. and you can "x" out of them. facebook promises you won't get more than one a day. >> let's hope they stick to that promise. and you might call this the $2 million bar mitzvah service project. as part of a ceremony, julian hopes to collect $2 each from 1 million people. donors can vote for their favorite charities. and the one that wins will get all 2 million bucks. what a service-minded young fella there. >> very impressive.
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when we come back, is a scientific journal about to release the secret formula to a virus that can be turned into a deadly weapon? and new rules by the faa to fight fatigue and keep the skies safe this holiday season. we'll be right back. . fight fatigue and keep the skies safe this holiday season. we'll be right back. and new fight fatigue and keep the skies safe this holiday season. we'll be right back. say no to a cigaret [ male ane celebrate a l witrm cq, the patch with smart control technology that gives you a burst of nicotine in the morning then continues working for up to 24 hours so you can go from one little win to another. until you reach your goal. nicoderm cq. quit one day at a time.
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until you reach your goal. shop kmart and get after christmas prices now... at the winter apparel blowout sale! take up to 60% off... outerwear for the whole family... and up to 60% off cozy sleepwear and robes! plus get thousands of gifts under $10. now that's kmart smart ♪ jewish people around the globe are celebrating hanukkah, the festival of lights. ♪ this is the lighting of the national me norah near the white house, marking the first night of the eight-day celebration. the crowd was entertained by a giant dancing dreidel and the president's own u.s. marine band. let's look at road conditions on this wednesday. wet on i-95, from the carolinas to maine. i-90, from boston to cleveland.
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and i-70, from st. louis to pittsburgh. flooding on i-10, from houston to new orleans. and i-40, in tennessee. snow and ice on i-15, 25 and 80 in the rockies. >> if you're flying, airport delays are possible in salt lake city, denver, houston, new orleans and from atlanta to boston. a judge in britain has been hearing some pretty sensational testimony in the phone hacking scandal that has shaken that country. >> now, a familiar face from american tv has been put on the hot seat. here's more from the bbc's nicholas witchell. >> reporter: he was 28 when he edited the "news of the world." an then, at "the daily mirror" he was sacked amid allegations of fixed photographs. piers morgan moved to television. first, as a talent show judge. and now, the high profile host of an american chat show. piers morgan relegates his status as interrogator to the stars. but by satellite link from los
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angeles, he was placed under oath to answer the questions. he started jauntily. but when it came to phone hacking, his answers became noticeably more terse. >> come, mr. morgan. your newspaper was near the top? of the list, wasn't it? >> top of the list of what? >> of the perpetrators carrying out this sort of practice. and you well know this. >> you also well know that not a single person has made any formal or legal complaint against "the daily mirror," for phone hacking. not one. >> reporter: he was asked how it was that he heard a private voicemail message left by sir paul mccartney for his then-girlfriend, heather mills. >> you listened to a tape of a voicemail message, correct? >> i listened to a tape of the message, correct. >> it was a voicemail message, wasn't it? >> i believed it was, yes. >> reporter: mr. morgan said he had to protect his sources. lord justice leveson was becoming exasperated. >> i am perfectly happy to call lady mccartney to give evidence as to whether she authorized you
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to listen to her voicemails. >> reporter: mr. morgan remained coy on the mccartneys. he denied he had heard other celebrity voicemails. he insisted he hadn't known phone hacking took place. >> i have no reason or knowledge to believe it was going on. >> reporter: nicholas witchell, bbc news, at the leveson inquiry. investigators and volunteers looking for ayla reynolds is going door-to-door in the town she went missing. they are also searching a nearby stream and in trash bins in a one-mile radius. ayla's father reported her missing friday morning. the child's anguished mother thanked volunteers who have looked for her since then. the federal government is asking scientists not to publish details of their research on the deadly bird flu virus. a request that's never been made before. the research was to be published in two journals. but the government is worried the information could be used by bioterrorists. the virus is so deadly that in hong kong today 17,000 chickens
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are being slaughtered because 1 was found to be infected. the federal aviation administration releases new rules today on how much sleep pilots must have before they enter the cockpit. the change was prompted by this colgan air crash in a buffalo suburb. 50 people, including 1 person on the ground, died. investigators found that pilot fatigue played a role in the crash. international soccer star david beckham may be headed overseas. a french newspaper is reporting that the 36-year-old englishman will sign with a french team for, get this, $1 million a month. beckham's five-year contract with the l.a. galaxy ended this year. his deal with the french club should allow him to play for britain in the london olympics, as well. from soccer to basketball. let's turn it over to espn news for last night's top highlights from the hardcourt. >> i'm don bell with your espn news update. the cardinals are looking to go
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11-0, their best start since '74-'75, taking on charleston. first half, antoine wiggins, jamming it home. charleston cuts the lead to three. andrew lawrence for the deep three. charleston went up 37-33, in the half. chris smith to russ smith for the three. louisville cut the lead to two. later on, matt sundberg for three. cougars back up by five. they go back and forth. finally, payton siva, finds kuric in the lane. louisville takes the lead, 60-59. a couple of plays later, siva to chris smith. drain it, cardinals. they win 69-62. kevin durant and the thunder taking on dirk nowitzki and the mavs. nba, preseason action. first quarter we go. nowitzki, the post. a little fadeaway shot right there. remember seeing that in the nba finals. finally an nba champion. mavericks tie it up at 7-7. later in the first, lamar odom.
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mavs take the lead to four. second quarter we go, james harden, putting it in reverse for the thunder. third quarter we go. okc up by eight. russell westbrook, nifty with the left hand. thunder up by ten. later on, nowitzki, leading the break. and kevin durant with the steal to westbrook. now, to kendrick perkins. he jams it home. thunder win, 97-83. i'm don bell. that will do it for this espn news update. >> good to see basketball again. there's no dashing through the snow in florida. so, santa has found a cool way to get around, by boat. >> he made a special stop in florida. and were joined by girls for a fishing trip. santa said some of the kids didn't tell him what was on their christmas wish. they're just satisfied to spend time with him. >> good for those kids. santa is very -- he can multitask. >> he sure can. >> we'll get there.
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coming up next, can you hear me now? how rabid fans of next summer's batman movie are already forcing the studio to make a major change. are you dreaming of a white christmas but missing the snow? then just fake it. those stories coming up in "the pulse."
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welcome back, everybody. time to check "the pulse," the stories you'll be talking about today. the countdown is on to the apocalypse. at least in one mexican region. >> yep. according to some interpretations of the mayan calendar the world will end exactly one year from today. in the town of capacula, they sfliped a switch on a doomsday clock that will stop ticking december 23rd, 2012. >> they're bracing for millions of extra tourists. we have heard a lot of doomsday predictions. i'm not going to sweat it just yet. >> i'm not, either. the final installment in the batman movie trilogy won't be out until next summer. but fans are complaining because they say it's too hard to understand what the villain of the film says. he wears a mask. >> word is, the studio would like director christopher nolan
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to fix the sound. but at a preliminary screening, nolan says he thinks it's okay if the audience doesn't get every, single word. >> i think that's going to be frustrating, though. >> i can understand they'd be a little ticked off about that. >> you have to fix it. >> come on, now. i want my money's worth. >> $13. some people are so determined to have a white christmas that they're willing to pay thousands of bucks with it. the fake snow business is booming. look at this recent episode of abc's "modern family" when jay surprised everyone with this special touch. >> but it's not just for christmas anymore. businesses say they have bookings in january and february. perhaps a white valentine's day. >> "modern family" is a great show. and the whole family really liked it. >> i like that. i like that idea. >> snow is good if you don't have to go out in it, don't have to drive in it, don't have to work in it. >> a little fake snow.
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they use iresorts. resorts. >> that's true. not bad at all. if you're at home, watching it look pretty, you're good to go. >> i think it's great. >> you have to go out, different story. for some of you, now, your local news is coming up next. >> for everyone else, we'll be back with the layaway angels from around the country who are doing their part to give those in need a very merry christmas. ♪ [ male announcer ] these days, even your trash can be a gold mine for identity thieves. ♪ we don't believe your garbage should be used against you. [ alarm blares ] we're lifelock. go to lifelock.com and join the fight against one of the fastest growing crimes in america. lifelock. relentlessly protecting your identity. call 1 (800) lifelock today.
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lifelock. relentlessly protecting your identity. shop kmart and get after christmas prices now... at the winter apparel blowout sale! take up to 60% off... outerwear for the whole family... and up to 60% off cozy sleepwear and robes! plus get thousands of gifts under $10. now that's kmart smart i couldn't sleep right. next day it took forever to get going. night after night, i sat up. sprayed up. took a shower... or took a pill. then i tried drug-free breathe right advanced. and instantly, i breathed better! i slept better. it felt...better. thank you, breathe right! [ male announcer ] breathe better, sleep better, feel better. try breathe right advanced for free... at breatheright.com. [ woman ] it's my right to breathe right. isn't it your right, too?
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but sometimes i wonder... what's left behind? [ female announcer ] purifying facial cleanser from neutrogena® naturals. removes 99% of dirt and toxins without dyes, parabens or harsh sulfates. so skin feels pure and healthy. [ female announcer ] from neutrogena® naturals. next, the bay area basketball star now being sued for sexual harassment. >> a debate over whether police should use more
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aggressive tactics in future port protests turns into a shouting match. the looming threats that could spell economic disaster if the city doesn't do something. fog and freezing temperatures could be an interesting morning in some areas. i updating the day's top stories. as crews clean up after that deadly blizzard in the southwest and plains, millions of holiday travelers are facing more nasty weather. ron paul appears to be benefiting from the battle between presidential heavyweights mitt romney and newt gingrich. it looks like the texas congressman could win the iowa caucuses. and the government reveals new rules designed to prevent fatigue in the cockpit. and looking at today's weather, now, the heaviest rain from houston to nashville, along with high winds and a chance of tornadoes. also, gusty in southern
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california, as santa ana winds kick up tonight from l.a. to san diego. and finally, attention kmart shoppers, there may be angels in the house. >> absolutely. all across the country, secret santas have been paying off people's layaway bills to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. and to the grateful recipients, it is truly a christmas miracle. abc's dan harris has the story. peeporter: across america, people are being told that complete strangers have paid their layaway bill. >> what? >> no way. >> yes. >> seriously? >> seriously. >> oh, my gosh. oh, my gosh. i can't believe that. >> reporter: it happened to kristen in a kmart in costa mesa, california, where she and her daughter were overcome. it happened in low country, south carolina, too, to this grandmother, battling cancer. >> it couldn't have happened at
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a better time for me. and i very much appreciate it. >> reporter: and in ft. wayne, indiana. >> kinda been like a snowball effect right now. >> reporter: snowballing, a viral phenomenon. an army of anonymous donors bringing cheer to the saddest part of the store, the layaway desk, where presents, whether it's a warm coat or that one special gift, are held until they can be paid off in full. we found one of these secret santas, who gave more than $15,000. he asked that we not reveal his identity. >> true charity is anonymous. and this isn't about me. it's about the fact that we can help, you know, hard-working, honest americans at a time when the economy hasn't been very favorable to us. >> reporter: he was the one who paid off kristen's bill. >> i can't believe it. i'm so happy, thank you. i have two coming home from college and two cars just broke down and -- it's just great. thank you so much. >> reporter: her anonymous donor says the best thanks he could receive would be if other people

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